Students in Ann Ostwald’s art classes at Alberni District Secondary School have painted 11 garbage cans with new themes. The cans will be placed around the city in places such as Blair Park, Harbour Quay, Echo Park and the Port Alberni Port Authority. SUSAN QUINN/Alberni Valley News

Alberni high school students decorate city garbage cans with painted themes

Some of Port Alberni’s garbage cans have a new coat of paint, thanks to Alberni District Secondary School teacher Anne Ostwald’s Art 11/ 12 classes.

Eleven newly painted cans have been distributed around the community, with themes depicting everything from Michaelangelo and koi fish to video game characters, cartoons and fantasy characters.

This is the 10th year for the garbage can painting project, Ostwald said. The Port Alberni Port Authority and City of Port Alberni have supported the program that long, circulating the cans and occasionally purchasing new ones to bring into circulation. Every year except for one, students have used exterior paint on the cans. One year their artwork was converted into special wraps, but the wraps did not last.

The project is in demand at the high school, says Ostwald. “Some kids actually come into the class because they know they might get to paint a garbage can.”

This particular project took students about a month, with some of them painting extra hours as the deadline loomed.

Addy Marchand spent hours painting koi fish on a turquoise background. The Art 10 student was one of a handful of younger students invited to participate in the program because there were more cans this year. Marchand has been accepted into a teen student program at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design in the summer of 2020.

Several of the art students, like Marchand, intend to use the painted garbage cans as part of their portfolios as they apply to post-secondary art institutions. Caleb Tsai, whose orange and grey depiction of a Michaelangelo theme includes some subtle graffiti, intends to go to Emily Carr when he graduates.

Tsai said his inspiration was another project he saw elsewhere. “I saw someone paint shipping cans with different Greek statues and I thought about painting (something similar). I decided put Michaelangelo in my painting instead.”

Tsai’s can is located at the skate park next to Wood Elementary School.

Some students, like Maya Pranjic, teamed up with classmates to paint sides of a can. She chose to paint sunflowers on her side. Malina Webb also worked collaboratively with other students on a can, although her dragon and mermaids were her own design.

Ariana Touchette named her artwork “Port Alberni Sunrise”. “When I first came to Port Alberni it was cool to find all the natural places I could find,” she explained. Every time she looked toward the mountains they were a different colour, so her garbage can depicts the mountains in sunrise. Touchette said part of the project was to learn how to mix their own paint colours.

The cans have already been distributed around the community in places like Blair Park, the skate park beside Wood Elementary School, Harbour Quay, Paper Mill Dam, Klitsa Fields and Echo Park.

“It’s a great success and achievement,” Touchette said about the project. “It’s exciting to know where they’re going as well.”

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